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by Annie Dawid

By that time, I’d broken almost every rule I would break. The smart girl from the “good” family,” I’d slept with men of every race, creed, and color. Most every drug had entered my lungs, my nose—though not my veins. I’d attempted suicide—“unsuccessfully”—more than once, and I’d learned the art of trichotillomania, though I had no name at that time for such transgressions of the body. “You use yourself as an experiment,” said my psychiatrist, years later. But he didn’t know the depth of the experimentation undertaken preceding my arrival in his office.

Almost. In my twenties, grad student by night, with a boring day job to pay the bills, the damage I had yet to do remained unfathomed. So when Victoria said, "Want to try heroin,” at first I thought she was kidding, because all I’d ever known her to do was drink. A sister-student in my Shakespeare class, we partied together on weekends, our entertainment consisting of binge drinking at bars, sometimes followed by crazy eating if we found ourselves without men by night’s end. More than once, we concluded the party at Clown Alley at two in the morning, scarfing tuna melts with fries, smearing them into our hungry, gaping maws, so drunk and messy the owner threatened to kick us out.

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(Un)fortunate Sons

by Sheila Luna

The Vietnam Wall rises out of the ground, a big wave of polished black granite with 58,267 names glittering in the sun. I weave through the Memorial Day crowd—bandana-wearing bikers, tattooed sailors, kids wielding ice cream cones, selfie-snapping couples, and World War II vets that are in Washington D.C. to commemorate the 70th anniversary of that war’s end, some in wheelchairs, some pulling oxygen tanks. Visitors touch the Wall in reverence. Some shake their heads in disbelief. Others offer white roses and handmade cards. I notice how we are, all of us, reflected in the Wall behind the etched names—past and present moving within the thousands of Vietnam vets who died or are still missing. The engraved names seem to come alive as they pick up the reflections of clouds and sun-dappled beech trees.

“It symbolizes a wound that is closed and healing,” someone says, pointing to the apex. Starting at eight inches on either side, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is actually two walls, each 247 feet long that rise to ten feet. Necks cock to get a glimpse.

 “It reminds me of a sinking ship,” says another.

Adjacent to the Wall, Medal of Honor recipients gather to dedicate a set of postage stamps that honor their service. One says Memorial Day is a day of mourning for him. Even though he is hailed as a hero, he remembers the day when nine of his fellow soldiers were killed.

“The tears are always here,” he says pointing to his eye. 

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Keisha, Urban Warrior

by Desirée Magney

          The familiar Marimba African rhythms chimed and I glanced at my iPhone to see who was calling. “Blocked Call.” It could have been a solicitation or a wrong number, but I knew it might be a defendant in one of my cases or, more importantly, one of the children.  

          It was the children who were my clients, but that didn’t stop the parents or guardians from calling me. Any time of the day or night, any day of the week, these calls came in. Of late, I had been working a particularly difficult case.  Seeing the disintegration of this family was akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion and I was at a loss to know how to stop it. The local evening news had reported another drive-by teen shooting in Anacostia. My stomach clenched. Was it my boy? I worried about these kids I represented as if they were my own.

          “Hello,” I answered tentatively. It was Keisha, the defendant mother in one of my custody cases.

           “Miss Desirée, will you please come to mental health court with me tomorrow?”

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